**Jennifer is a lovely woman I met online. She was reading my blog and saw my lists of things we still needed for our homebirth… she had some items leftover from her own homebirths and she very kindly and generously sent them to me. I appreciate it SO MUCH! I asked her if she’d type up a guest post about her homebirth so I could share it with all of you. Please say hi and show Jennifer some love! If you have ANY questions for her, feel free to leave them in the comments below or send me an email so I can put you in touch with her! My email is erdickey at gmail dot com**
My name is Jennifer, I usually go by Jen. I am a 29 year old, a twice laid off graphic designer working now in the stock market. I hail from a small town in Maryland that has four streetlights and where cowboy hats are often still tips and “howdy” is still used as a popular greeting. I have led what some might consider a very interesting life, I designed action figures and toy packaging, I worked for the NFL, was once an aspiring police officer and in my teens sported a pink Mohawk. Despite all of my social bottom line, it is giving birth to both of my children naturally at home as the thing that most people are most curious about and find to be the biggest accomplishment. They’re not exactly wrong either.
My story starts out simple enough. I, like many, had a hard time conceiving. Although not diagnosed by a doctor, I attributed this to my use of the depo shot for a long period of time. After almost exactly a year of trying to have a baby, which I considered hard work and my husband considered to be a million dollar lottery win, we became pregnant. I had at the time developed a blog on my trials, which a short 5 years ago wasn’t as common as it is now. My husband and I both attended an appointment at my gynecologist who confirmed with an internal sonogram that we were pregnant. There was a glimmer of a second baby so for a few short weeks we thought we were having twins when it turned out my body had later absorbed the other as it was not viable.
My goal was to have my gynecologist whom I had been with since a teenager and whom I trusted so much deliver my baby, and at the same hospital that I was born at. I found out that day that just 1 month earlier he had retired from deliveries and was only working in his normal practice. I was a bit devastated and had no idea what to do at that point. For a few weeks I put off doing anything regarding finding a hospital/doctor, I had managed to catch a cold and made a visit to my general practitioner and to my surprise found her just a few months more pregnant than myself. I took the opportunity to see who she was having deliver her baby. She recommended me to see her midwife Evelyn D. Muhlhan, CNM, who specialized in natural childbirth. I had heard the term midwife before but at that point never really knew exactly what it meant, I had ventured into foreign territory.
Since my doctor was so fond of this “Midwife,” I made an appointment. The first time I met with Evelyn she spent about an hour talking to me about my expectations for my delivery and what I intended on doing. I explained I just wanted to have my baby in a hospital, but since my doctor was using her, I wanted her to be there to help me so I would have someone I trust deliver my baby. She had privileges at a hospital near by which was great and then suggested that I find a birthing class in natural child birth and rent some videos. I watched The Business of Being Born and after making my husband watch it with me, we decided that a home birth might not be so bad. We were up in the air for weeks, but it wasn’t until our Bradley class that we saw the statistics on hospitals and really were able to weigh the pros and cons on each method. We had made up our mind and we were having our first baby at home.
After this decision, a rash of complaints and worries came from our immediate family. I received a phone call almost everyday from family trying to talk me out of it and asking me questions like, “What happens if something goes wrong?” and “can the midwife give you an epidural?” I answered all these questions and continued to tell relatives that it was our decision and that we knew we were making the right one for us and for our baby.
Then it all started the morning of January 7th. I was 40 weeks pregnant and waiting very patiently for the arrival of our son. I wasn’t exactly patient because we were hoping for an early arrival, he even had a Christmas stocking just in case. I woke up around 8:00, but didn’t get out of bed until around 8:30. I called my husband right away just to let him know I was awake and fine, I had to call him right back because after I went to the bathroom I saw that I had lost my mucus plug and a little bit of fluid. A few minutes later my water broke completely. I called my husband back, he was on his way home! I started having little contractions about an hour after my water broke. Hubby was so excited that he started cooking and cleaning to keep himself busy. He started cooking the Chili that I wanted as my first meal after the birth, then he made jello and got the birth tub ready and many other things to keep his mind off the baby.
Around noon I started having stronger contractions. We had already called the Midwife, but she was going to let me go until we got a little closer. I was walking around and got in the shower a few times to help ease the pain. As the hours passed, the contractions got stronger and stronger and more people started to show up. My birth team: My Husband, Mom, Aunt, Cousin, Best Friend, and my Midwife Evelyn and her assistant, Sue. By dark we were in the basement where we had set everything up to give birth, the lights can be dimmed, and there is plenty of room for the birth tub, there is a bed and couches so everyone can be comfortable. I moved around a lot and tried to get through each contraction as they started to get stronger. I groaned like a Mamma Bear just like our class instructor Jessica had taught us and my husband was right there to encourage me to keep going and not to give up.
At 4:30 in the morning the next day I was 100 percent effaced and dilated enough to start pushing… I was so ready! I tried many positions but was most comfy on the bed propped up and using my birth team as support for my legs. I pushed for an hour and then his head began to crown. Evelyn shouted, “he has lots of hair!” I started to get so excited even though I almost fell asleep between pushes. After one more hour of pushing it was time for Diego to be born. His head came out after a long contraction and four or five good pushes. His father ran over to catch him and on the next push he was born! It was 6:17 on January 8th and our precious son was here. My husband put Diego on my chest and he began to cry right away. Everyone laughed and cried as they let the cord stop pulsing and we all got our first look at him. He was perfect. After a few minutes and after they made sure I was ok Jaime cut the cord and let Sue weigh and measure him; 8 pounds 2 ounces!!!
Hubby put Diego’s first diaper and outfit on then we passed him around and he didn’t cry any more. I nursed him for the first time after I had recovered a bit and had some breakfast, hand fed to me by my midwife. We took lots of pictures and welcomed our newest member of the family! After 22 hours of labor at home we had finally done it, our biggest accomplishment as a family so far; the birth of our first child.
My second baby is a completely different scenario but that’s a story for another day. To conclude, I find I get called many things for delivering my babies at home: Hippy, Crazy, Nuts, Hero. Call me what you will but in the end I did what I did for myself and my baby, for my family and so I would be able to make my own decisions about my delivery. In the end it was a sound birth plan, an amazing husband coach, a trusted midwife and the determination of knowing that so many women before me had done what I was about to do and I trusted my body enough to go through with it. I know that home birthing is not for everyone and I certainly don’t ever push it on anyone, but if you ever felt as though it might be a good choice for you, I recommend education, classes, and a Midwife you trust along with a good support system.